5 Easy Day Trips from Tokyo ・ Get Out of the Big City and Explore Japan!

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Tokyo is a huge sprawling metropolis, but for travelers based in the city, or Tokyoites who just want a day away from it all, there are some pretty lovely options just outside the city limits!

The big city of Tokyo is an amazing place to visit or to live in long-term, but it's a busy, crowded, bustling place, and sooner or later, it's tempting to get out of town for a day and feel the atmosphere of somewhere a little different. Fortunately, the huge metropolitan area of Tokyo is surrounded by a number of interesting destinations, from seaside towns and preserved historic treasures, to other cities with their own unique vibes, making fun day trips out of the city an easy undertaking. When it comes to the Kanto region, all around Tokyo, the list of travel possibilities is endless, but here are a few of the Japankuru team's favorite must-sees in the area.

Getting to Kawagoe or Honkawagoe Station: about 35 minutes from Ikebukuro Station, or an hour from Shinjuku

Before the massive political upheaval that transformed Japan in the 1860s, Tokyo was known by the name Edo, and a little way north of the big city is the town of Kawagoe, sometimes called "Little Edo." Over the past century and a half, many things have changed in Japan, and even Kawagoe has largely become a modern community with plenty of commuters working in Tokyo, but one corner of Kawagoe has kept things a lot like they were back in the 19th century. Thanks to the streets lined with lovely old fashioned buildings and the laid-back atmosphere, in recent years Kawagoe has become an easy sightseeing spot just outside of Tokyo, attracting visitors who often dress up in kimono to take a little trip back in time.

The most iconic street is Kanetsuki Dori, which is named for the "Toki no Kane" (時の鐘), or "Bell of Time", a wooden bell tower that has stood beside the street for 400 years, becoming a symbol of Kawagoe along the way. This street is not only lovely to look at, but is also lined with restaurants, shops selling local snacks and street food, and Kawagoe's special Starbucks – built within an old-fashioned Japanese-style house.

① Kawagoe (川越)

Kawagoe's Hikawa Shrine, though it has a history of about 1,500 years and a reputation as a spot for finding love, has found its own popularity rise in recent years alongside the growth of social media. The shrine's tunnel-like path lined with ema plaques, and the yearly summer festival celebrated with almost 2,000 wind chimes, are both magical scenes to see with your own eyes, but they make for great pictures too.

​Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine (川越氷川神社)
2-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama
Official Website (jp)

For history buffs and samurai lovers, a trip to the nearby Kawagoe Castle is a must! Much of the castle complex has been chipped away over the centuries, and now only the main palace hall remains, but for just 100 yen visitors are free to take a look around inside and see what it was like to live as Japanese nobility once upon a time. Beautifully painted sliding doors, cool tatami mats, and views from the long, thin porch out onto the garden – it's tempting to become a samurai yourself and move right in.

Kawagoe Castle Honmaru Palace (川越城 本丸御殿)
2-13-1 Kuruwamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama
Official Page (jp)

② Yokohama (横浜)

Getting to Yokohama Station: about 25 min from Tokyo Station or Shibuya Station

South of Tokyo along the bayside, Yokohama is actually Japan's second-largest city, and the two cities are sometimes lumped together to become the enormously populous "Tokyo-Yokohama Metropolitan Area." But anyone who's visited Yokohama can tell you that it's not just a part of Tokyo, and the area has its own unique history, culture, and atmosphere. The opening of Yokohama International Port in 1859, not long after Japan started to inch open its long-closed borders, brought a huge wave of foreign influence to the city, with people and goods from all over the world arriving in Japan through Yokohama's port. For the past century and a half, the constant flow of commerce and new ideas passing through the city have kept it growing, and some of the biggest draws for modern-day visitors include the well-kempt grassy parks and paved paths along the breezy waterfront, including the popular Minato Mirai area. Yokohama is now a town of business and of leisure, with high-rise office buildings towering over the boardwalks, carnival rides, museums, shopping centers, and more, all busy with locals and visitors alike.

Years of foreign influence have left their mark on Yokohama in a number of ways, including leaving the city with some of its popular sightseeing spots, like the Yokohama English Garden. Leafy green canopies and vine-covered trellises make it feel like a mysterious secret garden, a little different from the broad-open green spaces by the bay waters, but the star of the show at the English Garden is the rose. With 1,800 different types found throughout the garden, there are virtually always roses of one kind or another in bloom, and visitors throughout the year will spot different roses as the seasons change. Just outside the entrance, the garden cafe also offers treats like rose ice cream, decorated with real violets.

Yokohama English Garden
6-1 Nishihiranumacho, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Official Website (jp)

With the construction of an international port, Chinese translators and interpreters made their way to the newly-opened city of Yokohama to set up shop, eventually settling in and building what is now Japan's largest Chinatown. Yokohama Chinatown is home to unique sights like the vibrant gates that welcome visitors into the neighborhood, and a Chinese-style temple/shrine (關帝廟, Kanteibyo) dedicated to an emperor from China's Three Kingdoms Period, now worshipped by some as a god. Decorated with colorful splashes of red for good luck and lanterns that light the pavement after sunset, the streets of Chinatown are a great place for a walk, and an even better place to try some of Japan's best Chinese food: soup dumplings as street food, steamed buns stuffed with fillings both savory and sweet, or luxurious multi-course meals with seafood fresh from the water. Just make sure you're not so full you can't enjoy Yokohama's sparkling nighttime skyline – or that you fall asleep on the ride back to Tokyo!

③ Kawasaki (川崎)

Getting to Kawasaki Station: 17 min from Tokyo Station

Kawasaki is sandwiched between the two big cities of Tokyo and Yokohama, but this smaller area has carved out a place for itself with some unusual and historic sightseeing destinations, friendly atmosphere, and convenient access. The roots of this little city start at the grand temple of Heikenji (平間寺), better known these days as Kawasaki Daishi, which was founded all the way back in 1128. The flow of visitors making pilgrimages to the famous temple helped fuel the growth of the surrounding community, and today the temple is especially popular for hatsumode (the first shrine visit of the year), when millions of visitors arrive over the course of just a few days. Not only is Kawasaki Daishi a beautiful example of a temple verging on being a part of "ancient history," but the surrounding shops that have popped up in more recent decades have their own nostalgic charm, selling popular local sweets and snacks.

Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple (川崎大師 平間寺)
4-48 Daishimachi, Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Official Website (en)

After growing up around Kawasaki Daishi, the city of Kawasaki found its footing as a stop along the road from western Japan to Edo, where samurai came to rest before arriving in what is now Tokyo. To get an idea of what that was like for the intrepid Edo-era travelers, a visit to the Kawasaki City Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum (AKA Nihon Minka-en/日本民家園) is a little like time travel, as visitors can wanter through a whole village-worth of traditional Japanese homes and other buildings, from local kominka farmhouses originally built back in 17th century Kawasaki, to huts from northern Japan made with straw roofs to withstand snow, oil merchant shopfronts straight out of the 18th century, and even a kabuki theater once used over 100 years ago in western Japan. The museum also has a great exhibition area, fascinating demonstrations, aizome indigo dye workshops, and even a soba shop inside one of the old houses.

Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum (日本民家園, Nihon Minka-en)
7-1-1 Masugata, Tama Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Official Website (en)

The last big change in Kawasaki's history came with the industrialization of the city's little chunk of shore along the bayside, where port facilities and modern facilities like factories and recycling plants popped up and transformed the area. This neighborhood is now surprisingly popular as a nighttime tourist destination, thanks to the kind of scenery that looks like it could be a backdrop in a futuristic robot-filled anime, or perhaps a gritty 80's sci-fi flick. Before heading home for the night, many travelers like to take the city buses out to the water's edge (or even book a spot on an "industrial night view cruise" ship) to catch a glimpse and a snapshot or two of the shining lights, gleaming pipes, and billowing smokestacks.

④ Kamakura & Enoshima (鎌倉・江ノ島)

Getting to Kamakura Station: about 1 hour from Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station

The neighboring cities of Kamakura and Enoshima are known for many things – temples, beaches, flowers, cafes, Enoshima Aquarium, and even the manga/anime Slam Dunk, which makes the area an extremely popular destination for day trips and weekends away from Tokyo. Kamakura in particular is known for its Great Buddha, a bronze statue so large that visitors are sometimes allowed to climb up inside it, which reaches over 13m (43') into the air at Kotoku-in Temple. And while this Buddha has become an iconic symbol of the area, Kamakura and Enoshima are both dotted generously with enough popular shrines and temples that a busy day trip might only cover a portion of the most famous ones, like Hasedera Temple, Hokokuji Temple, and Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine. For travelers hoping to stop in at some of the area's many stylish cafes as they walk between historic sites, a longer trip might be in order.

Kamakura Daibutsu Buddha (鎌倉大仏)
4-2-28 Hase, Kamakurashi, Kanagawa
Official Website (en)

Is our reference to Slam Dunk what caught your interest? Then you might recognize this particular view of the ocean! An iconic backdrop for this manga-turned-anime, found in the anime's opening animation, is the train crossing that happens right before the Enoden train line reaches Kamakurakokomae Station – the station in front of Kamakura High School.

Kamakurakokomae Train Station(鎌倉高校前)
1-1 Koshigoe, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa

Kamakura and Enoshima are in many ways a summer destination, and that season starts with the early-summer bloom of the region's hydrangeas, which famously cover the hillsides in clumps of glorious little pink, blue, and purple flowers. There are some lovely views of the flowers out the window for passengers taking the Enoden train to Enoshima Island, but many of the most popular hydrangea spots are actually within the area's shrines and temples, particularly Meigetsuin Temple, Hasedera Temple, and nearby Goryo Shrine. For flower lovers looking for a hydrangea-filled day trip, these are the must-sees!

As the season continues and Japan's hot and humid summer shows its face, Kamakura's sandy beaches become a go-to spot for the people of Tokyo, who flock to Yuigahama beach to lay out their towels, splash in the waves, and even practice their surfing skills. Nearby Shichirigahama Beach is the place for one last evening walk before heading home, as the sun sinks behind the silhouette of Enoshima Island.

⑤ Narita (成田)

Getting to Narita or Keisei-Narita Station: about an hour from Tokyo Station

Thanks to Narita Airport, a huge number of international travelers who enter Japan from the air end up spending at least a few minutes in Chiba Prefecture's city of Narita. But the vast majority of travelers arriving in Narita Airport end up going straight to Tokyo and then back to the airport without stopping to enjoy Narita itself and the surrounding area, missing out on cobbled roads, historic temples, beautifully preserved samurai mansions, sake breweries, museums of all kinds, and perhaps even the oldest shrine in Japan. There's plenty to keep travelers interested for far more than a day, but the quaint historic neighborhood around Narita Station (about 10 minutes from the airport station) is a great place to start. Naritasan Shinshoji Temple was founded over a thousand years ago, and became particularly famous when Tokugawa Ieyasu moved the government of Japan to Edo. Similar to Kawasaki Daishi, Naritasan Shinshoji is another temple that gathers enormous crowds on New Year's day, but on a normal weekday visitors with a little good timing might be able to sit in on the monks' daily prayers.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple (成田山新勝寺)
1 Narita, Narita, Chiba
Official Website (en)

Like many temples, pilgrims coming to see the temple over the centuries helped the surrounding area thrive, and the street leading from the train station to the temple is still lined with shops and restaurants catering to modern-day travelers. Many visitors will stop to snack on a freshly grilled senbei rice cracker (煎餅) covered in a soy-based sauce, or sit down for lunch or dinner at a restaurant specializing in unagi (うなぎ, freshwater eel), a luxurious local specialty.

One of the more popular sightseeing destinations found in the area just outside of Narita is a unique open-air museum called Boso no Mura, which recreates a street from the Edo era, and offers visitors a number of fun costumes for rent at the dedicated Cosplay Annex. Dress up like a samurai or put on a colorful kimono styled to look like the age when Japan was just beginning to adopt Western fashion, and then explore the old-fashioned buildings and the many workshops available inside. Popular options include a tea ceremony in the spacious tea house, or crafting at the blacksmiths!

Boso no Mura (房総のむら)
Ryukakuji, Sakae, Imba District, Chiba
Official Website (jp)

For a little break from Tokyo, and a fun look at what else Japan has to offer, a day trip out of town is the perfect way to see more of the history, culture, and beautiful sights found all over this country. So whether you're hoping to see a little more of small-town Japan, or just want a different taste of city life, don't overthink those travel plans – head out for the day and see what you can find!

For more info and updates from Japan, check Japankuru for new articles, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!


NAME:Tokyo's Outskirts


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      Hokkaido (北海道) is the northernmost of the four main islands that make up Japan. The area is famous for Sapporo Beer, plus brewing and distilling in general, along with fantastic snow festivals and breathtaking national parks. Foodies should look for Hokkaido's famous potatoes, cantaloupe, dairy products, soup curry, and miso ramen!

    • Niki, in south-west Hokkaido, is about 30 minutes from Otaru. The small town is rich with natural resources, fresh water, and clean air, making it a thriving center for fruit farms. Cherries, tomatoes, and grapes are all cultivated in the area, and thanks to a growing local wine industry, it's quickly becoming a food and wine hotspot. Together with the neighboring town of Yoichi, it's a noted area for wine tourism.

    • Niseko is about two hours from New Chitose Airport, in the western part of Hokkaido. It's one of Japan's most noted winter resort areas, and a frequent destination for international visitors. That's all because of the super high-quality powder snow, which wins the hearts of beginners and experts alike, bringing them back for repeat visits. That's not all, though, it's also a great place to enjoy Hokkaido's culinary scene and some beautiful onsen (hot springs).

    • Otaru is in western Hokkaido, about 30 minutes from Sapporo Station. The city thrived around its busy harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to active trade and fishing, and the buildings remaining from that period are still popular attractions, centered around Otaru Canal. With its history as a center of fishing, it's no surprise that the area's fresh sushi is a must-try. Otaru has over 100 sushi shops, quite a few of which are lined up on Sushiya Dori (Sushi Street).


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      Sapporo, in the south-western part of Hokkaido, is the prefecture's political and economic capital. The local New Chitose Airport see arrivals from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, alongside international flights. Every February, the Sapporo Snow Festival is held in Odori Park―one of the biggest events in Hokkaido. It's also a hotspot for great food, known as a culinary treasure chest, and Sapporo is a destination for ramen, grilled mutton, soup curry, and of course Hokkaido's beloved seafood.

    • Consisting of six prefectures, the Tohoku Region (東北地方) is up in the northeastern part of Japan's main island. It's the source of plenty of the nation's agriculture (which means great food), and packed with beautiful scenery. Explore the region's stunning mountains, lakes, and hot springs!

    • Akita Prefecture is on the Sea of Japan, in the northern reaches of Japan's northern Tohoku region. Akita has more officially registered important intangible culture assets than anywhere else in Japan, and to this day visitors can experience traditional culture throughout the prefecture, from the Oga Peninsula's Namahage (registered with UNESCO as a part of Japan's intangible cultural heritage), to the Tohoku top 3 Kanto Festival. Mysterious little spots like the Oyu Stone Circle Site and Ryu no Atama (Dragon's Head) are also worth a visit!


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      Fukushima Prefecture sits at the southern tip of Japan's northern Tohoku region, and is divided into three parts with their own different charms: the Coastal Area (Hama-dori), the Central Area (Naka-dori), and the Aizu Area. There's Aizu-Wakamatsu with its Edo-era history and medieval castles, Oze National Park, Kitakata ramen, and Bandai Ski Resort (with its famous powder snow). Fukushima is a beautiful place to enjoy the vivid colors and sightseeing of Japan's beloved four seasons.


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      Yamagata Prefecture is up against the Sea of Japan, in the southern part of the Tohoku region, and it's especially popular in winter, when travelers soak in the onsen (hot springs) and ski down snowy slopes. International skiiers are especially fond of Zao Onsen Ski Resort and Gassan Ski Resort, and in recent years visitors have been drawn to the area to see the mystical sight of local frost-covered trees. Some destinations are popular regardless of the season, like Risshakuji Temple, AKA Yamadera, Ginzan Onsen's nostalgic old-fashioned streets, and Zao's Okama Lake, all great for taking pictures. Yamagata is also the place to try Yonezawa beef, one of the top 3 varieties of wagyu beef.

    • Japan's most densely populated area, the Kanto Region (関東地方) includes 7 prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa, which means it also contains the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. In modern-day Japan, Kanto is the cultural, political, and economic heartland of the country, and each prefecture offers something a little different from its neighbors.

    • Gunma Prefecture is easily accessible from Tokyo, and in addition to the area's popular natural attractions like Oze Marshland and Fukiware Falls, Gunma also has a number of popular hot springs (Kusatsu, Ikaho, Minakami, Shima)―it's even called an Onsen Kingdom. The prefecture is popular with history buffs and train lovers, thanks to spots like world heritage site Tomioka Silk Mill, the historic Megane-bashi Bridge, and the Watarase Keikoku Sightseeing Railway.


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      Tochigi Prefecture's capital is Utsunomiya, known for famous gyoza, and just an hour from Tokyo. The prefecture is full of nature-related sightseeing opportunities year-round, from the blooming of spring flowers to color fall foliage. Tochigi also has plenty of extremely well-known sightseeing destinations, like World Heritage Site Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, and Ashikaga Flower Park―famous for expansive wisteria trellises. In recent years the mountain resort town of Nasu has also become a popular excursion, thanks in part to the local imperial villa. Tochigi is a beautiful place to enjoy the world around you.

    • Tokyo (東京) is Japan's busy capital, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. While the city as a whole is quite modern, crowded with skyscrapers and bustling crowds, Tokyo also holds onto its traditional side in places like the Imperial Palace and Asakusa neighborhood. It's one of the world's top cities when it comes to culture, the arts, fashion, games, high-tech industries, transportation, and more.

    • The Chubu Region (中部地方) is located right in the center of Japan's main island, and consists of 9 prefectures: Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi. It's primarily famous for its mountains, as the region contains both Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. The ski resorts in Niigata and Nagano also draw visitors from around the world, making it a popular winter destination.

    • Nagano Prefecture's popularity starts with a wealth of historic treasures, like Matsumoto Castle, Zenkoji Temple, and Togakushi Shrine, but the highlight might just be the prefecture's natural vistas surrounded by the "Japanese Alps." Nagano's fruit is famous, and there are plenty of places to pick it fresh, and the area is full of hot springs, including Jigokudani Monkey Park―where monkeys take baths as well! Thanks to the construction of the Hokuriku shinkansen line, Nagano is easily reachable from the Tokyo area, adding it to plenty of travel itineraries. And after the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, ski resorts like Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are known around the world.

    • Aichi Prefecture sits in the center of the Japanese islands, and its capital city, Nagoya, is a center of politics, commerce, and culture. While Aichi is home to major industry, and is even the birthplace of Toyota cars, it's proximity to the sea and the mountains means it's also a place with beautiful natural scenery, like Saku Island, Koijigahama Beach, Mt. Horaiji. Often used a stage for major battles in Japanese history, Sengoku era commanders like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu left their own footprints on Aichi, and historic buildings like Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle, and those in Meiji Mura are still around to tell the tale.


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      Niigata is a prefecture on Japan's main island of Honshu, situated right on the coast of the Sea of Japan, and abundant with the gifts of nature. It's known for popular ski resorts such as Echigo-Yuzawa, Japanese national parks, and natural hot spring baths, plus local products like fresh seafood, rice, and sake. Visitors often spend time in the prefectural capital, Niigata City, or venture across the water to Sado Island.


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      Shizuoka Prefecture is sandwiched between eastern and western Japan, giving the prefecture easy access to both Tokyo and Osaka. Not only is it known for beautiful natural attractions, with everything from Mount Fuji to Suruga Bay, Lake Hamanako, and Sumata Pass―Shizuoka's Izu Peninsula is known as a go-to spot for hot springs lovers, with famous onsen like Atami, Ito, Shimoda, Shuzenji, and Dogashima. Shizuoka attracts all kinds of travelers thanks to historic connections with the Tokugawa clan, the Oigawa Railway, fresh eel cuisine, Hamamatsu gyoza, and famously high-quality green tea.

    • Kansai (関西) is a region that includes Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures. Kansai contained Japan's ancient capital for hundreds of years, and it's making a comeback as one of the most popular parts of Japan. Kyoto's temples and shrines, Osaka Castle, and the deer of Nara are all considered must-sees. Plus, the people of Kansai are especially friendly, making it a fun place to hang out.

    • Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan between the years 794 and 1100, becoming a center for poilitics and culture, and to this day it's a great place for close encounters with Japanese history. The cobbled streets of Gion, the atmospheric road to Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkakuji's golden walls and countless historic attractions, even Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge―Kyoto is a place of many attractions. With new charms to experience throughout the seasons, travelers can't stop themselves from returning again and again.

    • Nara Prefecture's important history reaches back to 710, a time now called the Nara era, when it was once capital of Japan. Called "Heijo-kyo" during its time as a capital, it's said that nara was once the end of the silk road, leading it to flourish as a uniquely international region and produce important cultural properties of all kinds. To make the most of each season, travelers head to Nara Park, where the Nara deer who wander freely, or climb Mount Yoshino, a famous cherry blossom spot.

    • Osaka is known for friendly (and funny) people, but its history is nothing to laugh at, playing a major part in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century unification of Japan. Thanks to long years of economic activity, it's one of Japan's biggest cities, and Osaka's popular food culture earned it the nickname "The Kitchen of the Nation." To this day Osaka is the model of western Japan, and alongside historic structures like Osaka Castle, it also has major shopping malls like Umeda's Grand Front Osaka and Tennoji's Abeno Harukas. Osaka is a place to eat, eat, eat, with local specialties like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushi-katsu, and for extra fun, it's home to Universal Studios Japan.


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      The Chugoku Region (中国地方) consists of five prefectures: Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi. In Chugoku you’ll find the sand dunes of Tottori, and Hiroshima’s atomic bomb site, plus centers of ancient history like Grand Shrine of Izumo.


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      Hiroshima Prefecture has everything, from world heritage sites to beautiful nature and delicious local cuisine, and it's either an hour and a half from Tokyo by plane, or four hours by train. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Atomic Bomb Dome, two Hiroshima UNESCO sites, are famous around the world, but in Japan it's also famous for food. Seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, especially oysters, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and Setouchi lemons are all popular, and the natural scenery alone is worth seeing.


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      On the other side of the Seto Inland Sea opposite Japan’s main island, Shikoku (四国) is a region made up of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima. The area is famous for its udon (in Kagawa), and the beautiful Dogo Onsen hot springs (in Ehime).

    • Kagawa Prefecture is on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, facing Japan's main island and the Seto Inland Sea. It's known for being the smallest prefecture in Japan, by area, but at the same time Kagawa is called the "Udon Prefecture" thanks to its famous sanuki udon. Aside from Kotohiragu Shrine and Ritsurin Garden, the prefecture's small islands are popular, and Kagawa is full of unique destinations, like Angel Road. They say that if you lay eyes on Zenigata Sunae, a huge Kagawa sand painting, you'll never have money troubles ever again.

    • Located in the most southwestern part of Japan, Kyushu (九州) is an island of 7 prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima. The island's unique culture has been influenced by Chinese and Dutch trade, along with missionaries coming in through Nagasaki's port. Modern-day travelers love the lush natural scenery and fresh food, plus the natural hot springs found all throughout the area (thanks to volcanic activity)!


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      Fukuoka Prefecture has the highest population on the southern island of Kyushu, with two major cities: Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. Thanks to growing transportation networks, Fukuoka is more accessible than ever, and so are the many local attractions. On top of historical spots like Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, travelers shouldn't miss Fukuoka's food scene, with motsu nabe (offal hotpot), mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and famous Hakata ramen―best eaten from a food stall in the Nakasu area of Hakata. Plus, it's full of all sorts of destinations for travelers, like trendy shopping centers, and the beautiful nature of Itoshima and Yanagawa.


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      Kagoshima Prefecture played a major role in Japan's modernization as a backdrop for famous historical figures like samurais Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi, who pushed Japan out of the Edo era and into the Meiji. Because of that, Sengan-en Garden is just one of many historical destinations, and when it comes to attractions Kagoshima has plenty: the active volcano of Sakurajima, popular hot springs Ibusuki Onsen and Kirishima Onsen, World Heritage Site Yakushima Island, even what Japan calls the "island closest to heaven," Amami Oshima. Kagoshima might be found on the very southernmost tip of the southern island of Kyushu, but there's plenty to see.


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      The island chain of Okinawa (沖縄) makes up the southernmost tip of Japan, which is why it's also the most tropical area in the country. Thanks to a history of independence and totally distinct political and cultural events, Okinawa has a unique culture, and remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom are still visible all over the islands. Food, language, traditional dress, it's all a little different! It's also said to be the birthplace of karate.